It Was the ‘Seafood’ After All — Red Lobster Menu Reflects More Lobster Dishes


*The new management at Red Lobster is taking the struggling chain back to its roots: Seafood. On Monday it was announced  the chain revamped its menu once more, to remove dishes including Spicy Tortilla Soup and a Wood-Grilled Pork Chop, and return to more dishes that feature lobster.

Apparently, when the chain’s previous owner, Darden Restaurants Inc., put a new menu in place in hopes of attracting people who don’t like seafood, sales ended up going into decline.

According to the new management, the change was a mistake.

“At the end of the day, we believe that seafood is really why people come to Red Lobster,” said Salli Setta, Red Lobster’s president, in a phone interview.

Now, with a menu that reflects 85 percent seafood, up from 75 percent, Red Lobster says more photos of the food will allow customers to easily navigate the menu. Customers will see four of five new dishes include lobster, and the amount of shrimp in the popular “Ultimate Feast” platter has been increased by 50 percent.

Of course this also comes with a price increase, but its only a dollar, making the dish – which includes lobster and crab – $26.99.

Red Lobster was sold off to investment firm Golden Gate Capital by Darden this past summer because the company – which also owns Olive Garden – failed to turn around the chain’s declining sales.

For its last fiscal year, Darden had said Red Lobster’s sales declined 6 percent at established locations, following a 2.2 percent decline the previous year. Red Lobster, which is still operating out of Darden’s offices until it moves into its new home, no longer has to disclose its sales figures because it is privately held.

CEO Kim Lopdrup, who returned to Red Lobster after serving as its president from 2004 to 2011, has said steep discounting like “30 shrimp for $11.99” was a mistake. Customers can also expect to see a new “presentation” of the dishes, with fish piled over rice instead of having foods spread out on a dish. Red Lobster believes this will be more visually appealing, and at the same time, help retain the food’s heat.

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